by Michael Stumo
Are the TTIP talks dead, as Germany's Vice Chancellor said? Or are they making progress, like the Obama administration countered?
My money is on the "dead" side.
German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said that the US and EU have not agreed on a single chapter after 14 rounds of Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks. Thus, the talks have failed but "nobody is really admitting it."
Unsurprisingly, a spokesman for US Trade Ambassador Michael Froman was quoted today with newspeak to counter the German view. "Negotiations are in fact making steady progress."
No reasoning. No facts. Just an assertion.
The TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is more global government than trade, even more unbalanced in that regard than the TPP or prior trade deals. The tariff issues are largely nonexistent because low tariffs exist. But multinationals simply want to "harmonize" EU and US standards and rules. In effect, they want globally supervised rule-writing with transnational corporate lobbyists sitting and holding the hands of the rule-writers.
There really isn't a rationale for the TTIP except in the minds of the USTR and the transnationals. The Doha Round of WTO negotiations were started in 2001 and targeted for completion in 2005. The purpose was to provide some sort of developing country benefit through trade, though it was more about global regulation as well. After years of no progress, it was not until 2015 that they were declared dead.
Trade negotiators get their post-government, high paying jobs by saying they were part of successful trade agreement negotiations. But those agreements are not in the best interest of the US (or the EU) citizenry. That is part of the disconnect between the diplomats and the voters and workers.
Again, my money is on the side of the TTIP never being finalized. But we have to watch it. And we have to work for a national goal of balanced trade.